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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Jacinthe Ahmed Assaad
C LIT 240
Seattle Campus

Writing in Comparative Literature

Comparative approach to literature and a workshop in writing comparative papers in English. Emphasis on cross-cultural comparison of literary works. Readings in English with an option to read selected texts in the original languages Offered: AWSp.

Class description

Evil: An Act of Freedom or Fate?

The self constantly looks for that moment where it is the agent of its path, a moment that affirms its indissoluble autonomy and its existential freedom. That precise moment defines many a character we will examine in our readings and in the movies. In a breath of fresh air, they inhale freedom, and their actions thereon translate an evilness that cannot be dismissed, as they come face to face with their human limitations. Can we understand evil as an assertion of freedom in the face of our unwavering fate? Or is it merely a byproduct of our struggle against fate? Does committing evil become a ‚Äúcollateral damage‚Ä? or the essence of that freedom? Does (self-) destruction become an automatic result? Finally, does our perception of evil differ, across time and space? In this class, we will address these issues through close reading and writings about literary, philosophical and film texts from a variety of cultural contexts: from Classical Greece to Elizabethan England to Twentieth-Century France and Egypt. We will examine how various characters in literature and film express and exercise their freedom, and how in the course of their actions, evil unfolds. Eventually, the aim of the class is to demonstrate whether we can understand evil through its relation to freedom and fate.

Required readings in order:

Sophocles. Oedipus, the King. Shakespeare, William. Othello. Camus, Albert. Caligula. Sartre, Jean-Paul. The Flies. Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein. Mahfouz, Naguib. The Thief and the Dogs.

Theory (available on class website):

Camus, Albert. Selections from The Rebel. ----. Selections from The Myth of Sisyphus. Freud, Sigmund. Selections from Civilization and Its Discontent. ----. Selections from The Interpretation of Dreams (on the Oedipus Complex). Nietzsche, Friedrich. Selections from On The Genealogy of Morals.


The Dark Knight (Batman). Dir. Christopher Nolan, 2008 (US). Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. Dir. Kenneth Branagh, 1994 (UK).

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

Recommended preparation

Class assignments and grading

You will be required to write 2 short essays (2 pages) and 2 long ones (4-5 pages) and give a presentation.

The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Jacinthe Ahmed Assaad
Date: 03/31/2011